Becoming a Dog Person

By Rachel Lyons, May 2019
Illustration by beastfromeast

Illustration by beastfromeast

You don’t even want a dog. You come from a long line of cat people, and you intend to stay that way. Then out of the woods scrambles shy, scrappy Clover. You shoo him off, but he runs circles around you. For months, you deny he’s been dumped and you search for the home he abandoned. For weeks, you encourage others to take him. Meanwhile, you’ve given him a bath and a name, ordered a case of chicken, and watched him settle onto the mat outside your door every night. After countless walks, his joy becomes your joy. His presence at your side in the garden, his insistence that you stop and give him a belly rub, his fierce loyalty, become the fabric of your life, and there’s no way you’re going back. (How did you live without a dog before?) When at last you admit he’s yours, your inner German housewife insists, There’s no way he’s coming inside. But he squeezes in, and he exudes such coziness and security that the extra sweeping of dirt and fur seems a worthy price. Then your sister needs to rehome her dog, and you think, We’ll try it. Clover could use a friend, and Stella might be happy with us. Stella is a totally different animal, calm and bold and stubborn, and even though you’re not supposed to say it aloud, now you get how puzzled parents are when their second child is so unlike their first. It occurs to you that your interspecies family has perfected its balance, and your life is more fun than before. Your walks feel like a second childhood, when you ran the woods with a pack of dogs and belonged in a way you can’t with humans. Your furry friends demand to get outside early to run at the lake. You’re brought into the post-dawn world of hovering herons and rising mist and vultures sunning themselves on the fishing dock railing, and it is all because of dogs! All the rules you had (no getting on the furniture, no scratching the couch, no sleeping on the new rugs, no jumping onto the bed) are slowly (or swiftly) broken down, and after a while, the scent of dog means home. And that is how you effortlessly transform into a dog person.

Rachel Lyons is a born-again dog lover and emerging writer whose work will appear in a forthcoming Communities magazine.

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